Improvements to the SEND service - March 2021 update

We take your feedback seriously and always look at ways we can improve our services and the information about them. We're pleased to show you all the improvements and changes we're making based on your feedback and conversations we've had with you.

Here is a summary of the improvements made between January and March 2021. For the most recent updates, please go to our you said, we did page.

You said we need to listen more

  • We have developed several ways of collecting feedback from children and young people with SEND and their families on our services and the local offer website.

    One method of collecting feedback over the past 3 months is through a survey sent to all families who have received an EHC plan or are in the processing of reviewing their EHC plan. From this we have been able to assess the strengths of your satisfaction with the EHC plan process and the local offer, and we will be developing this survey for all children who are receiving SEND support.

    This survey has found:

  • The percentage of parents satisfied with all steps of the statutory assessment process and the EHC plan increased from 31% in 2019, to 60% in March 2021.

  • The percentage of parents who visited our website and found the information to be useful increased from 19% in 2019, to 60% in spring 2021.

  • We also gather general feedback throughout our website using the tell us how we did option (the smiley faces) at the bottom of every page.

  • As well as the generic feedback option, we have created a survey shown on the top of most of our pages, to specifically ask for your thoughts about our SEND local offer.

  • We want to give you regular updates about what we have changed because of all of your feedback therefore we will update the this page every three months, over the course of spring, summer, autumn and winter.

You said we need to treat you as equal partners

  • We have been working to improve our website using the feedback that we gather and we have started to revise the information on our schools pages and improved links within our autism support section.

  • We are also making it easier to find local SEND services and support with our community directory. Our community directory has 1,649 activities and event, 374 services offering advice and support, 797 services offering health and wellbeing advice and support, and 211 entries related to short breaks.

  • You said that you didn’t like the name 'local offer'. Both families and professionals have told us that the name didn’t explain what the local offer is. We have therefore changed the name to the SEND information hub, Kent’s local offer.

  • Both families and professionals told us that the local offer didn’t look engaging, therefore we have redesigned the look of our website to have a friendlier and more engaging design.

You said we need to communicate better with you

  • The listening to your voice and taking action section of our site is dedicated to letting you know about the latest improvements. Here you will find our termly newsletter, how we are working with parents and carers, and how to give feedback to shape our services.

  • Since February 2020 there have been 11 SEND newsletters. The newsletters were planned to be sent out termly in 2020, however due to COVID-19 we have also produced two additional back to school copies in August and April 2021, and a further specific newsletters dedicated to the January lockdown guidance and children's mental health week. Our subscription numbers have been steadily increasing in 2021, seeing the rate double in the past few months. Sign up and subscribe to our newsletters to find out the latest.

You said we must be more child and young people-focused

  • There is ongoing work within our community directory to ensure the range of services and activities for children, and young people with SEND and their parents have clear information about their accessibility.

  • The complaints procedure can now be found on our contact SEND teams and support service page.

  • There is ongoing work to promote the SEND information hub within our children teams, local health providers, schools and community groups.

  • Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group have successfully submitted a bid to NHS England Improvement and have received funding for two care leaver apprentice posts to work within the Kent and Medway commissioning teams to support the transformation of children’s and young people’s services.

You said we must be less adversarial and more compassionate

  • Whilst the overall parental satisfaction is improving, there is still a concern that the system was still adversarial. You have told us that there is poor to no communication, you are not being listened to and you have had to do too much of the chasing up. This has meant an additional strain and pressure has been put on you. Due to these comments, work is being undertaken to embed a child centred approach to the whole of the children and young people directorate.

You said schools must be more inclusive

  • Overall satisfaction levels are improving, however there is still a concern that schools are not able or willing to support your child. In some instances, this is due to the issues not being seen at school and only at home, whilst in others because the school had yet to identify your child's needs early enough.

  • We are rolling out a county wide approach to inclusive education. The plan focuses specifically on strategies to support inclusive practices within our schools as part of the wider SEND strategy. Activity within the plan has been developed over several months through collaboration, research, pilot activity, discussion and consultation. We are currently asking schools and parents for their feedback on the plan and young people about what good inclusive teaching and learning looks and feels like to them.

You said we should be providing better information, advice, guidance and support

  • You said that there are difficulties finding the information on local schools. Therefore, we have removed our schools information from our community directory and we have updated our school pages to place all of the information in one place. This includes two new and informative find a special school and specialist resource provision pages.

  • You said that you find it difficult to find information about school transitions, therefore we are looking into the need for a more robust transition process, which will be available once it has been agreed. However, in the interim we have created a moving from early years to primary school guide and moving from primary school to secondary school guide.

  • You said that the autism pathway for children is out of date and unclear, therefore we have added links back to our autism page (including out parent guide handbook) to make the support information easier to find, whilst we await an update of the autism pathway.

  • We have now created a post 16 transport page on our website by working with the school transport team to update their guidance and reflect comments made by you.

You said we need to improve waiting times, provide more funding for local health services, and to have better trained staff

We have looked for ways to manage waiting lists consistently and how we can support parents more.

  • We are looking at ways to make sure waiting lists for the Speech, Language and Communication Needs service are managed in a consistent way across Kent and to reduce waiting times. This includes investing more money for new local clinics and more training to staff.

  • We have supported parents and carers with children who are waiting for an autism assessment in Canterbury. We held two events, with presentations and talks on autism, education and health care plans and marketplace stands offering further information and support. Parents could talk to professionals about their experiences, and even bring their children along with them as we provided staff to look after them so that parents could attend workshops.